What Is White-Collar Crime?
A white-collar crime is a criminal offense where an individual is accused of theft or fraud. Generally, white-collar crimes occur in large corporations or wherever someone is responsible for another person’s money.
In certain instances, individuals could also face charges under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), which often carries far more severe penalties than standard white-collar crimes.
Multiple local, state, and federal government agencies could be involved in your investigation. Therefore, you must have an experienced legal defender prepared to protect your future and reputation.
Types of White-Collar Crime We Handle
Most types of financially based criminal offenses are considered white-collar crimes. Some of the most prevalent types of white-collar crimes our team handles at Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A. include:
- Money laundering
- Insurance fraud
- Computer crimes
- Healthcare fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- RICO crimes
- Check kiting schemes
- Employee theft
- Mail fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Conspiracy to commit fraud
- Ponzi schemes
- Pyramid schemes
- The exploitation of disabled adults or the elderly
Money laundering involves using multiple transactions to hide the source of illegally obtained funds. Generally, money laundering charges will apply alongside wire fraud, mail fraud, or other unlawful financial transactions.
Fraud can take multiple forms. For example, with wire or mail fraud, you could be accused of using electronic communication to commit a white-collar criminal offense. If convicted, you could spend up to 20 years in federal prison and pay fines of up to $500,000 for businesses.
Another type of fraud is known as healthcare fraud. Here, schemers will use unlawful means to obtain funding from healthcare programs run by the federal government or private insurance companies.
There is also bank fraud which involves defrauding financial institutions or attempting to defraud them for a fraudster’s financial gain. This may include forging signatures, identity theft, or check kiting. According to 18 U.S.C. Section 1344, if you are found guilty of bank fraud, you can spend up to $1 million in fines and up to 30 years in federal prison.
Racketeering and RICO
The RICO Act was passed in 1970 and designed to combat organized crime. Anyone employed by or associated with criminal enterprises could be charged with racketeering and RICO charges if they show a pattern of collecting unlawful debts or racketeering activities. This includes crimes committed through coercion or extortion.
Generally, RICO crimes involve using a business to run unlawful or criminal activities. For example, a coffee shop could be a smokescreen for money laundering by a criminal enterprise. If convicted, you could be fined up to $250,000 and face up to 20 years in federal prison.
The RICO Act also allows the Attorney General to seize assets acquired from criminal activities, including businesses and homes.
Embezzlement is one of the most well-known types of white-collar crimes. It occurs when an individual overseeing and handling another party’s funds steals or misapplies them for their financial gain.
What Are the Penalties for White-Collar Crime in Florida?
The types of criminal penalties you could face if convicted of a white-collar crime in Tampa, FL, vary widely depending on the charge. For example, someone charged with a RICO crime would face different penalties than they would for embezzlement.
You could also face harsher consequences for federal charges. In federal court, the penalties often include longer incarceration and higher fines. Some of the factors taken into consideration when determining potential sentences include:
- How many alleged victims are involved
- The type of white-collar crime
- Whether you have any prior criminal convictions
- How much money was involved with the white-collar crime
- Whether there are any mitigating factors present
For example, someone who is charged for the first time with identity theft may face first-degree misdemeanor charges or third-degree felony charges. If convicted, they can spend up to five years in a Florida State prison.
However, if you have multiple convictions for identity theft, your charges could be elevated to a first or second-degree felony. This could increase your prison time to as much as 30 years and lead to $50,000 in fines.
Additionally, individuals convicted of white-collar crimes may have their assets seized and be ordered to pay restitution to the alleged victims in their case.
Possible Defenses Against White-Collar Crime Charges
You can expect your white-collar crime attorney in Tampa, FL, to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case and craft a compelling defense strategy. Some types of defenses are used more often in white-collar crime cases than others. These include:
- Lack of intent to defraud
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Lack of sufficient evidence
- Lack of mental capacity to commit a white-collar crime
- Committing a white-collar crime under duress or due to coercion
- Affirmative defenses such as involuntary intoxication
- Failure to file charges before the statute of limitations passes